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Linguistic Anthropology Lecture 4
Language, Society Freedom
Language, Culture, and Freedom
We covered that language both separates and unites us
Can help us categorize the world and ourselves as a separate being
It helps us label people so we can put them in these different classifications
Chow else can we communicate as human beings?
How can we know that others classify themselves as separate beings as well?
Because they represent their psyche just as we/I do
[Referring to the video at the beginning of the class in which a dog and man
are dancing meringue] But what about animals? The dog in the video learned
to dance just as a human would, but does the dance mean the same to the
man as to the dog? Does he enjoy the rhythm/Latin music?
We will cover conformity, how language contributes to the fact that we obey
How is it that human beings conform? Think of basic inequalities, why
don‟t starving people just take from those who have more than
enough? It‟s an innate understanding that we don‟t want to misbehave
Language and signifying behaviour in general, limits what we can say, think, and
We are limited by our language and can‟t communicate easily beyond it
This often happens below the level of our consciousness
Limiting innovation preserves the social order
It can be hegemonic if it makes people give their willing consent)
So how free are we?
Our world is governed by a system that we share, how limiting is this?
1. Language, dialect, as well as language ideologies (ideologies that influence
what people think f as a language and as a dialect)
2, Social variation: accents (he‟ll tell us what his is!!), sociolects (social
dialects), registers (varieties of languages that depend on formality, like Lei
versus tu in Italian)
Hegemony: Three Approaches
Conformity and resistance
Language varieties: “language, dialects, accent”
“Language, dialect, and accent:” popular, not scientific terms
Nation, Language, Dialect
Politics and what is a nation has a lot to do with it
“Language is a dialect with an army”
Malay, Indonesian; In Indonesia, although Indonesian wasn‟t one of the
native languages, it had been a lingua franca between the peoples
Serbian, Croatian; written with a different alphabet, Cyrillic and Latin
These are languages with a state, but each pair is very close to each other, if
you can understand one you can understand the other.
Cantonese, Fukinese, Mandarin, etc.;
These have no state, and no army
Hindi, Urdu; different alphabets, but Urdu is an Islamic language in Pakistan
while Hindi is part of the religion in India
These are languages with a religion (and script)
The closest language to English is Frisian in an area on the border of Holland
where they speak Frisian.
“Die” means good day
Why do foreign accents persist?
They learn another language, and the habits persist so they are still using the
habits from their first language.
Objective reasons: Critical period for leaning
11-14 years of age
People can still do it at the age of 18 or so, but generally they speak a
So you need to be 14 years or younger for our brains to be able to speak
a language without an accent